Monday, 30 April 2012

Presentation v Presenter

Over an evening meal an interesting question was asked regarding presentations.  The question opened up a debate with many views exchanged with no great consensus.  The question was “What makes a presentation most memorable? Is it the presenter or the presentation content?”

Searching the internet does not seem to produce a percentage to which proportions play the largest element of a memorable presentation, ideally the presenter and presentation work in tandem, but what happens if one slips below par?

Early discussion focused on the presenter and how a good presenter can carry a poor presentation, making certain elements memorable. The confidence of the presenter can basically carry the audience. This confidence could be through a positive physiology and narrative to support the slides. This visual stimulus can stay within the long term memory but overtime the message can still be lost.  Personally I remember a couple of occasions where the presenter has stood out but over time the message has faded.  One presenter explained why he always wore a dinner jacket and another who was exuberant always wore a brightly coloured bow tie, both at the time were visually stimulating.

As the conversation developed and more views and examples were shared, thought drifted to the presentation as a whole.  This was based on whether a presentation can be remembered even if it is extremely well crafted with clear key messages, but the presenter is a little hesitant. It would be no contest if both the presentation and the presenter were poor, but for this discussion we assumed the presentation material was of a high standard. A colleague had to admit to seeing the same corporate presentation performed by two of his colleagues. The presentation with the confident presenter as you would expect carried more clarity. The hesitant colleague dragged attention away from the presentation, if you like creating noise for the key message to battle through. How bad though does a presenter have to be to really influence the key message of the presentation?

The conclusion from the debate was that the presenter carries more weight to the presentation than the presentation quality itself, not concluded though was the proportion of influence.

Do you agree? What percentage ratio would you place on the presenter to presentation 60:40, 80:20? Let us know your thoughts.

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